As we enter a new decade, more and more businesses are making the transition to cloud computing solutions. Cloud computing enables greater scalability and flexibility in building software and processing data while also providing a more secure environment and enhanced customer data protection.

Intelematics made the transition last year, and we already see the benefits. Like so many other businesses, Intelematics’ cloud computing solution is provided by Amazon Web Services (AWS) – the global leader in the cloud computing space.

AWS offers certification to validate the technical skills and cloud expertise of professionals working on their platform, highlighting in-demand skills. The certification also helps organisations build skilled, effective and innovative teams for their cloud initiatives using AWS. Because so many companies around the world now rely on AWS services, the AWS certification is increasingly becoming a must-have for technology professionals. It is quite routine these days to see tech employers seek professionals who have AWS certification on their resumes when making hiring decisions.

AWS offers 11 different certifications – grouped into four streams targeted at cloud practitioners, architects, developers and operations. Certifications are also categorised by degree of difficulty – foundational (least difficult), and associate and professional (most difficult). There are also speciality certifications that demonstrate competence in specific skills, including advanced networking, big data and machine learning.

Completing university for many of us means our days of studying for exams are behind us. The bad news is, the only way to get AWS certified is to pass an exam – and they’re not easy! Gone are the days of student life – drinking red bull and staying up late into the night studying, only to get up at 1 pm the next day and doing it all over again. As adults now, with jobs and responsibilities, we can’t afford to be up all night studying.

So how do you prepare for a difficult exam while working full time? I’ve recently completed the first step in my own personal AWS certification journey, achieving solutions architect (associate), developer (associate) and SysOps administrator (associate) certifications. Through my experience, I picked up some tips and tricks when preparing for the exam that I’d like to share.

AWS certification

Manage your time wisely

In my experience, it takes 15 hours to prepare for an AWS certification exam adequately. And this is being as efficient as possible. Keep this magic number in mind when scheduling your exam and work backwards accordingly – for example, I knew I had five hours per week to dedicate to exam preparation, and I scheduled my three exams over nine weeks.

Use online resources – but be smart about it

There are many great online resources available to help you prepare for your exam. These resources (UdemyA Cloud Guru) usually require users to pay a monthly subscription to access and provide online video courses and practice tests specifically to help you prepare for AWS certification exams. While it’s an excellent service, you need to be as efficient as possible if you want to stick to the magic number of 15 hours! To maximise your time:

  • Don’t watch the videos in full – while these videos are informative, watching each one of them in full will eat into your valuable preparation time, watch the parts you really need to. You can also scroll through the videos and see the thumbnails for each section – from this you can see the headings for each topic covered, which will tell you what you should know without watching the videos.
  • Start with the practice tests – skip through the videos and head straight to the practice tests. You receive the results immediately, which will show you where the gaps in your knowledge lie. From there, you can revisit the videos and pick the parts that you need to brush up on and ignore the parts that cover an area where you’re already strong. Try and do as many practice tests as you can in preparation for the exam.

Combine theory and on-the-job experience

The theoretical component of studying for your AWS certification exam is incredibly important, but the best way to prepare is by putting what you learn into practice at work. At Intelematics, we work with a wide range of AWS products, including ECS, KMS, SageMaker, DynamoDB and API Gateway, which gives us ample opportunity to refine our skills and knowledge on the job.

However, even if a component involved in the AWS certification isn’t part of your day-to-day work, it doesn’t mean that you can’t get practical experience. During your preparation period, keep an eye out for opportunities to gain experience in a different area, outside your typical role. Speak to your colleagues about what they’re working on and if it’s relevant to your preparation – ask if you can shadow them! Participating in the design of the system architecture and reviewing your peers’ code are great ways to gain necessary AWS knowledge that you otherwise may not be exposed to.

Have your solutions architect on speed dial

If your company is an ‘enterprise-level’ customer of AWS, they will be allocated a ‘solutions architect’ – an AWS employee and expert who is available to answer any questions company employees may have about the products. While you’re preparing for the exam, make the most of this great resource – make sure you know who they are, and have their phone number saved in your phone, so you can pick their brain at any time.

In our industry, AWS certification is a true badge of honour. At Intelematics, we’re proud that approximately 25 per cent of our people are AWS certified. I trust that the tips above will help you to achieve the coveted certification and not just earn the respect of your peers but also open a gateway of professional opportunities.